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A round-up of the best Life stories of 2012 - Part 1

posted 13 Dec 2012, 16:21 by Mpelembe   [ updated 13 Dec 2012, 16:23 ]

From a flying cat to driving dogs, and everything else in between, the quirkiest, the most memorable and most unusual Reuters Life! stories of 2012.



As ever, the animal kingdom provided us with its fair share of spectacular stories in 2012.

None more so than the man in Amsterdam who turned his own dead cat into a helicopter.

The feline flying machine was named Orvillocopter after Bart Jansen's pet cat Orville who died earlier in the year when he was run over by a car.

Jansen preserved his body and later decided to honour it by making it fly by building a control panel inside the cat's body and placing propellers on its legs.

Not to be outdone by a flying cat, next meet Ratatouille, a jumper-wearing opossum with a great fondness for snowboarding.

He showed off some fancy moves at the Liberty Mountain resort in Carroll Valley,Pennsylvania.

Over in San Diego it was a case of 'Sit. Stay Surf' as more than 50 dogs of all sizes gathered along the shore for an intense day of competitive surfing.

Yet more remarkable footage showed a rare Russian bear playing with a wooden stick like a real master of kung fu. The amateur video showed Pamir the bear rocking a staff from side to side around his neck.

Meanwhile more video showed a hungry lioness at an Oregon zoo trying her hardest to eat a little toddler peering at him from the other side of the glass and it's all caught on camera.

Kya the lioness can be seen lunging and scratching at the glass but the young child,Jack remains completely unfazed.

Meanwhile Cocoa the goat shuns other goats and countryside living, preferring instead the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple.

Her owner Cyrus Fakroddin says she doesn't realise she is a goat and loves the company of people and city life, so he regularly takes her from his New Jersey home toNew York for walks on a leash.

Clearly Cocoa thinks she's a dog, so she'd probably enjoy being a guest at New YorkCity's luxury dog hotel.

With facilities better than many human hotels, D Pet Hotels features overnight boarding suites with plush beds, flat screen televisions and spa and fitness services.

The pet hotel even offers a personal chef and 'chauf-fur' services, if requested.

But the cats are getting their fair share of pampering too over in Austria at the country's first cat cafe, where the customers can enjoy their drinks while playing with cats.

Cafe Neko ('neko' meaning 'cat' in Japanese) opened in May in Vienna city centre.

Over in Israel, a very special group of felines were also the centre of attention. Four rare sand kittens, considered extinct in Israel, were born in July and their adorable faces brought the crowds to the Ramat Gan Safari Park.

Meanwhile three small tiger cubs became the star attraction at a small zoo in Abony, 90 kilometres east of the Hungarian capital of Budapest. Visitors flocked there en masse to get a sight of the cute Siberian baby tigers.

Rarer still, a white tiger in a zoo gave birth to four rare tiger cubs in May, one of them an albino, according to zoo workers.

The newborns were in good health and were being taken care of by staff at the 'Skazka' zoo in southern Ukraine.

A one-year-old panda cub played, jumped and rolled around in his first snowfall in January.

The panda cub, Fu Hu, could be seen climbing onto a tree trunk, spinning around and lying on his back at the Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna.

Wedding bells rang for a penguin couple at the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium just ahead of Valentine's Day. The two penguins, Xiaobai and Xiaoxue had been identified as a loving couple by aquarium staff for the event.

Finally, a charity in New Zealand has been teaching dogs to drive to highlight their intelligence and encourage more people to give rescued animals a home.

The campaign is part of a push by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) to find more homes for abandoned pets in New Zealand.


2012 was a year for never-before-seen feats of daring and extreme sport.

First and most was the Austrian daredevil who leapt into the stratosphere from a balloon near the edge of space 24 miles about earth in October, safely landing and setting a record for the highest skydive.

43-year-old Felix Baumgartner also broke the sound barrier in the process.

His body pierced the atmosphere at 833.9 miles per hour, according to numbers released by the Federation Aeronautic International.

"I wish the world could see what I see and sometimes you have to go up really high to see how small you are," Baumgartner said after completing the jump.

Steve 'Jetman' Rossy also completed another spectacular stunt this year -- flying full throttle above the city of Rio de JaneiroBrazil.

Sponsored by the Swiss watch manufacturer Brietling, a video was released showing the 'Jetman' preparing for the solo flight and then jumping out of a helicopter over the Rodrigo de Freitas Lake and circling over Rio in his jet suit.

Not to be outdone, in October daredevils in China hurled themselves off the top of a mountain to glide across one of China's most dramatic landscapes in the final of the Wingsuit Flying World Championships, state media reported.

Wearing 'wingsuits' specially designed with flaps between the limbs to allow the wearer to glide like a flying fox, competitors jumped from the 1,400-metre peak of Tianmen mountain in Zhangjiajie in China's Central Hunan province, official broadcaster CCTVshowed.

Meanwhile a Russian truck driver got a very lucky escape in September as his vehicle collided with another large truck on a Russian highway.

An amateur footage from a video registration camera shows traffic on a highway, then a large truck in front making a sudden maneuver to the left coming onto the wrong lane and crashing into another onpassing truck.

The video shows the truck seriously damaged, but the driver miraculously unhurt as he was thrown out of the front window by impact. He is seen walking immediately near the crash scene as his smashed truck stands on the highway.

France's very own version of Spider-Man, Alain Robert scaled another tall building, while in Estonia, the underwater checkers championships kicked off in January with 60 tournament players planning to attend.

And over in Russia, brave swimmers saw in the new year in sub zero temperatures by diving into icy waters.

Finally, daredevil Nik Wallenda made a historic tightrope crossing over Niagara Falls in June, stepping onto safe ground in Canada to wild cheers after completing his journey through wind and mist on a 2-inch (5-cm) cable.

Wallenda, a member of the famed "Flying Wallendas" family of aerialists, took a little more than 25 minutes to walk 1,800 feet (550 metres) from the U.S. side in the dark of night over treacherous waters and rocks in a nationally televised event.


The Guinness Book of World Records never fails to surprise and this year was no different, be it the record for the 850 people who took part in a 'mattress dominoes' event in New OrleansLouisiana, or the world's shortest man.

A Guinness World Records team measured Chandra Bahadur Dangi at 54.60 centimetres (21.5 inches), declaring the 72-year-old even shorter the previous title holder,.

Meanwhile the world's tallest man Sultan Kosen, who stands at 8 ft 3 inches (251 cm) attended a promotional event in Hong Kong and announced that he had finally stopped growing taller.

Egyptian-born Moustafa Ismail was recognised for having the largest "guns" - biceps and triceps - with a circumference of 25.5in; bodybuilder Mr Ismail, now living in Franklin,Massachusetts, has arms with a greater circumference than the average human head. The 24-year-old, originally from Alexandria, Egypt, hopes his record-breaking status will be a springboard to become a professional body-builder.

"Next year's going to be like, I'm waiting to get to 30 inches by next year. I wanna get my max. Plus my dreams is forever, I said, until I die: in the gym," he said.

The world's oldest living man Jiroemon Kimura celebrated his 115th birthday in April, and it's reported that he's still going strong.

Another more unusual record saw three friends travel around the world to 51 countries in 450 days in a British black cab.

British university students Paul ArcherJohno Ellison and Leigh Purnell reached the highest ever altitude by taxi - 17,143 feet at Everest Base camp and they clocked up the longest journey by taxi at 43,321 miles - the equivalent of an 80,000 (British) pound (129,000 USD) fare.

A Thai couple celebrated Valentine's Day by setting the new world record of the longest continuous kiss for more than 50 hours in February.

A kissing competition kicked off in Thailand's Pattaya beach town with seven couples of contestants continually smooching through Valentine's day.

A gay couple, Thanakorn Sithtiemthong (pron: ta-na-korn sit-tiem-thong), 28, and his partner Nonthawat Charoenkasetsin (pron:non-ta-wat cha-roen ka-set-sin) 31, seemed strongest after they spent 50 hours 25minutes and 1 second kissing non-stop.

From the professional Xpogo team, 19-year-old Michael Mena added to his list of championship titles by jumping 2.44 meters (8 ft) to beat the Highest Forward Flip Pogo Stick Jump.

Also recognised for her feats of human nature was 86-year-old Johanna Quaas, a retired PE teacher from LeipzigGermany, who was named the oldest gymnast

And finally American Mark Temerato gets the record for being the owner of the largest drum kit in the world, and insists he can hit every one of his 340 piece kit.